2014 in review

The end of 2014 is days away. It doesn’t seem possible. 2014 yielded some wonderful things, one of which is Jubilee in the weight department. Since August, I’ve lost 30 pounds and still progressing. I’m thankful for my friend Sarah’s weight loss and for her success having a powerful impact on me. She introduced me to U Weight Loss which has been the instrument used for my success.

Robin2014 delivered me my job at Alberta Health. I started working there in 2013 but it was as a temporary employee. On August 11, I got hired into my present position. I never knew such great jobs existed. I love my job and am thankful beyond words for all the benefits that come with it. A great pension plan, sick days, four weeks of vacation, every third Friday off for my EDO, Canada Savings Bonds plan and more. I’m surrounded by bright, bright people and that is wonderful. My administrative assistant colleagues are wonderful and are becoming very good friends. Robin is a devout Catholic and is outspoken about her faith. She is mentoring me in that way; she is an extraordinary example for me. She is in no way afraid to speak of God or her faith. I want to be more like her and am very grateful for her friendship.

2014 took me to North Carolina for Melody’s lovely wedding. Quite truthfully, it wasn’t a good trip in that I felt judged and ridiculed. Once home, God took me down a path of reading about His grace, showing me how accepted I am in His eyes. I gained clarity and saw God’s grace afresh in a beautiful way.

G & V jasperGordon and I went to Jasper and had a wonderful weekend there. It was great to be alone with him and whetted my appetite for more weekends away with him.

Improvements to our home – I’m loving them. We got new kitchen appliances, new cabinets, a wall removed in the kitchen, the piano moved downstairs which opened up the living room in a big way and most of the brick wall outside is finished. It’s still a work in progress, but 2014 yielded lots of fruit in the home improvements department. Gordon has worked hard and I’m so grateful for the money to accomplish these improvements and his health and willingness to do them.

2014 brought me home from the apartment. We’ve experienced lots of healing in our marriage during our separation and those awful / painful counseling sessions. We appreciate each other more and I think we are stronger for it all. I wouldn’t trade our relationship for any other. Truly. I love him so very very much.

I’m thankful for the character changes I see in myself. For most of my life I’ve been a “go big or go home” type of person. That’s not so much the case anymore. Even my travel bug indicates that change in my character. In the past when I dreamed of going to Europe, I wanted to see as many countries as possible at one time. My idea was to be able to say I’d been there, not to have really experienced it. Now when I dream of going to Europe, it’s usually one country at a time that entices me. I want to hike, walk, swim, immerse myself in the beauty of each country I visit and that will take time. I look forward to worshiping God in His creation that I have yet to see. Right now I’m thinking of the Tuscany Hills, mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, hikes in the Dolomites . . .

GrandkidsStephanie and John Mark and their angelic little family moved into their beautiful new home. I visited them in April and absolutely adore my grandchildren. How very blessed I was to experience them. I’ll never forget Roman telling me he never knew adventures could be so fun when we would go exploring in the neighborhood or walking along with Ella and her saying, “Beppie, I love you.” My heart is so full just remembering those sweet babies.  I’m so thankful for the way Stephanie and John Mark parent.

Christopher is in Tulsa working long hours and making lots of money. I didn’t have a lot of time with him in April, but what I did have, I thoroughly enjoyed.

Rachael, bike wreck2014 has shown us progress with each of the girls.  Rachael has been working at 7-11 for nearly a year. She loves her work. She has a wonderful work ethic. In spite of liking to party, she’s responsible and always goes to work. She was in a bad bicycle wreck several months ago while impaired. I’m so thankful God protected her.

Hannah still works at the daycare (although she has given notice for the end of January). She’s been there over a year. She and Darian moved to BC in the summer. They couldn’t get jobs that would support them so they came home after several weeks. I was proud of them for chasing their dreams.  Like Rachael, Hannah has a good work ethic and is responsible.

Girls Christmas 14It’s been a growing year for Deborah. This time last year, she was stealing lots, not going to school, doing drugs and alcohol when she could. I’m so thankful for her improvements in 2014. She has faithfully been going to school at Outreach, she’s not cutting or attempting suicide and occasionally she goes to church and church youth events. We’ve seen great improvements in her and are so thankful.

Darian, Hannah’s boyfriend, has yielded to the conviction of the Holy Spirit in his life. When we met him he was an existentialist / atheist. For five weeks he’s attended church and his spiritual appetite for the things of God is voracious. This, I guess, is the crowning beauty of my year. Seeing his spiritual growth is so exciting and beautiful.

We’ve all had good health this year. We’ve been protected from harm and all our needs have been met. I thank God and give him my praise for a blessed 2014.

a thanksgiving prayer

It's another Thanksgiving Day and a perfect time to express my thanks to you. You have given me an amazingly full life of goodness and grace. Thank you for relationship with you and letting me experience life knowing you. Thank you for the work you've done in my life, for forgiveness, for healing, for the tremendous changes you've made in me. I'm grateful from the core of my being. You've changed me from the inside out and I'll never be able to express my thanks adequately. For the changes you've made in the deepest places of my heart, I'm thankful beyond words.

Gordon and hazeThank you for Gordon; he is a man of integrity, honesty, kindness and faithfulness. I'm thankful we share similar values and convictions and that he is the daddy to our daughters. I'm thankful for sweet memories I have of him pushing them on the merry-go-rounds, taking them on dates to watch the "marching guys," reading to them, tucking them in at night and the numerous sacrifices he's made for them. He's never been a passive dad and I'm thankful.

Steph's family 2012Thank you for Stephanie and John Mark and the stable life they have. Thank you for giving John Mark to Stephanie. He is a good man and and excellent father to those precious babies. Thank you for the choice they've made for Stephanie to be a stay-at-home mom during these years. Thank you for how easy she is to talk to, her humor, her easy-going nature. She is so refreshing.

Thank you that Stephanie and John Mark have taken Deborah into their home and hearts for this time. I was sinking into a dark abyss dealing with her issues. I'm grateful for the reprieve of the past several weeks.

Debs in ar. 2012 1Thank you for Deborah's improvements in their care. She is stronger and less fragile. Thank you for the opportunity she has to have a clean slate. She is a polite, kind, caring child and I'm thankful for her sweet disposition. I know her life is ultimately in your hands and I'm thankful you love her more than I ever can. Thank you for that peace. Thank you for letting me be her mom.

Chris 2010 in front of airplaneThank you for my man cub, Christopher. He is a hard-working young man and I thank you for his strong work ethic. Thank you for the strength and perserverance you've given him over the past couple years of working and going to school full time. Thank you for his tenacity. He's a kind young man and I love that he's never shyed away from showing this mama bear affection. Thank you for choosing me to be his mom.

Thank you for my headstrong Rachael. Thank you for her common sense, her ease with conversation, her openness, her passion. Even as she embraces so many things that are contrary to what we taught her, I'm confident she will do life well. She's got what it takes. I'm thankful her life is in your hands.

Rach and hannah 2010Thank you for Hannah. She is a caring and loving person who likes to help others. I'm thankful those traits are there and I believe I'll see them flourishing again. She's an artist and I'm thankful her beautiful work fills my house. Those paintings remind me of who she really is. 

I don't think I could bear these years of having three teenaged daughters without the confidence that everything is in your loving hands. "All things are working for my good" is the mantra that infuses me with peace.That promise is carrying me these days. You are good, even in the darkness.

I'm awed by your goodness, your grace and your gifts. Peewee napping on my lap as I write this, Casanova purring at my side, blue sky, golden trees, beautiful music, a warm charming house, good jobs, loving families, peace and freedom, . . . Your gifts are innumerable, your goodness amazing. Thank you.

walk into the questions

"Thank you God for this new day and for the time to work and play. Please be with me all day long in every story game or song. May all the happy things I do, make You, my Father, happy too." That's a prayer poem by Dale Evans Rogers that was in a book of poems I used to read to Rachael and Hannah back when they were toddlers in Mill Woods. Those were the days. I was so busy and tired with two active babies. I smile thinking of their laughter, fun, expressions, mischief and innocence. Precious indeed! So long ago.

I never would have dreamed that those innocent toddlers would become these teenagers. Where did the innocence go and why?

I'm reading Spiritual Direction, by Henri Nouwen. He speaks of "walking into the questions of life." Some questions have no answers in this life. I need to embrace the life that raises these questions, (why are my kids like this? what did I do wrong?) and walk into this life as I'd walk into a strong wind. There's nothing my questions will do about the "wind." Seek God in the questions of life, not seek God's answers to those questions. Just seek God. That is profound and beautiful.

I struggle so much with questions of why my kids are so spiritually, emotionally, mentally unwell. The questions don't help me. But embracing this phase of my life and embracing God in this time will make all the difference. I must remind myself often that it's all working for my good.

This weekend I was thinking about our kids and some of the problems they've caused and was so thankful that I had years of sweet, innocent history of them recorded. I may have forgotten 90% of those stories had I not been recording them in written form. I'm thankful for the memories. They are so special to me.

I know God can change my kids' hearts because of all the heart changes He's made in me. I pray He does the same for my kids. Hannah and Rachael are full of stupid choices. Hannah was arrested for vandalism Saturday. Rachael was with her but she got away from the police. With more kids, they were on top of Gish School painting the roof.

On the same day Hannah refused to obey me when I asked her to do a five-minute job and she told me to do it myself. I'm just about at wits end and don't know how I will carry on.

She turned 16 this week and her birthday was devoid of joy. We had an appointment with social works and she was absolutely full of disrespect and rudeness. It was so discouraging. What are we to do, God? She is always taking risks, being rude, behaving with no regard for others. I feel totally powerless as a mom. She sows nothing but negativity, anger and disrespect here.

God, please bring all three of my girls to an end of themselves. Please convict them of their need for you. Change their desires and draw them into personal, powerful relationship with you. Please give me wisdom as a mom.

july's 12 in '12


2012 july 12in12
July's 12 in '12

This is my July 12 in '12 collage. As I wrote here, for the remainder of the year I am journaling each month in picture. This picture is loaded with signficant and meaningful stuff irrespective of how insignificant it looks. 

1. St. Francis of Assisi is one of the great mentors in my life. I read something in late June that sparked a desire to re-read some of the things I've read on this great man. I wanted to rekindle some of the truths that I learned from him. In July I re-read these books.

2 and 11. These pictures are from Deborah's 13th birthday. I officially have 3 teenage daughters.

3. Hannah found this kitten near 7-11. It was meowing and she looked down at her feet to discover him there. She brought him home and nursed him back to health. This picture was taken after we had him over a week. He was tiny and had already filled out by the time this picture was taken. It is pitiful that something so small was all alone in the world. Hannah named him Haze and was diligent caring for him. He temporarily softened her heart and since we were desperate for Hannah's heart to be softened, it was a no-brainer that we keep him. He was much work though -- I think he was blind and he meowed nearly constantly. Hannah soon tired of the job and I took him to the Humane Society where I figure he found a good home. But for the short time he was with us, he touched us with his helplessness and his ability to soften a young girl's heart.

4. In June I went to a seminar and heard the benefits of giving up grain products. I checked some Paleo lifestyle books out at the library and on July 1 started eating the way a Paleo enthusiast would. It has now been 36 days of having no junk food, no fake food and no wheat products. Bonus, I lost several pounds in July.

5. This picture of Hannah was taken a few days before going into PChAD. In this picture, although it's a fine picture, the subtleties of her expression reveal her hardness of heart.

6. I love summer and I love my little container vegetable garden.

7. While in PChAD, Hannah resumed her former love for painting. She painted four pieces while there. It blessed my socks off to see her embracing a former love. It's probably been a year since we've seen this side of her.

8. Deborah has had nearly two good months of not cutting. However in July she had a huge upset and she cut again. I'll be sharing some big news on that front very soon.

9. Casanova!, what a cool cat. One day I came home for lunch and found him on top of the cabinet. I couldn't be mad, it was too cute. However, when I came home in the late afternoon, the cow, which was a gift from Stephanie, was shattered on the floor. Casanova was still on top of the cabinet.

10. This is the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC) sign that hung outside of Hannah's safe house for the PChAD program.

11. Here's Deborah with her 13th birthday cake.

12. This isn't just a silly vain picture of my hand. There's some significance here. When Hannah's behaviour started getting erratic and volatile, I read her diaries to try to determine the extent of her drug problem. One thing I read in her diary was how she hates her fingernails and wished they were prettier. I realized that was something I could help her with. I have never tended to my nails with affection, but when I read that I decided I'd begin to stock our home with nail supplies and offer to keep her nails manicured. And I have. As a byproduct of this commitment, my own nails have gotten lots of babying too. This is the first time I've ever worn red fingernail polish. I feel eccentric.

temporary empty nest

Hannah's art hand
Hannah's first painting in a long time.
Home is so calm, uneventful and quiet this week. Hannah is in detox, Deborah is at Gull Lake Camp and, of course, Rachael hasn't lived here for weeks. It's just Gordon and me. The break is welcome. I don't know if Gordon shares that viewpoint. PChAD, I think, seems radical to him. I think he thinks I'm half crazed in pursuing it.

Weeks ago when I told Hannah I was pursuing detox for her, she laughed. It was a big joke, maybe even a badge of honor to need detox. She joked about it with friends. I asked if she'd go voluntarily, she said no. On Monday she was shocked to find out that in PChAD she checked her "rights" at the door. She had to surrender every item she brought. She must wear the clothes they issued her and they confiscated every single item she took with her, right down to her underwear. She isn't allowed outside. Once she experienced this lack of freedom she was furious and it wasn't a big joke anymore. That's when she pursued an appeal. There was an element of pride in hearing this; her independence is incredible. She was granted a hearing with a judge via video satellite. I was proud of her initiative. But, thankfully, her appeal was denied.

Hannah's art lorax
A lorax. I love this playful side of Hannah.


I went to see her the day after she was admitted. She was angry and acted like she couldn't stand the sight of me. She is allowed to call us at 7:00 every evening and she does. I think she is so bored and lonely that she is willing to talk even to me. We visit her every other day during visitation. She started out so ill tempered and short, but several days into the process she was proudly showing us paintings she had done. Slowly, she is becoming her old self. She isn't having fun and resents being there, but after a few days, she is laughing. One can't imaging how sweet that sound is to me. I haven't heard her laugh without a hard edge in a long time. She talks about what she is reading. She hasn't read in a long time. I know she hasn't painted in a long time. It's like she is getting in touch with herself again. Remove the pot and the friends and our Hannah surfaces again. 

Today she said, "I think I want to be a librarian." I wanted to jump for joy. My heart swelled with pride. She was talking about the future and it was positive talk. I cannot remember the last time I heard positive words come from Hannah's lips.

Today I am very encouraged.

seventeen years old

Rachael at Little Bow in 2010, 15 years old

This weekend Rachael and Nick are camping at Little Bow to celebrate her birthday. That's bittersweet; bitter because it's her first birthday away from home, sweet because she acts like a good little wife as she's preparing to camp. She is looking forward to showing Nick Little Bow.

I'm disappointed and grieved by a number of Rachael's present choices. She uses pot and alcohol, lives with her boyfriend, dropped out of anything Christian-y, and done various other things I wish she hadn't. But she is so sweet. I see her several times a week and it's always pleasant. When she lived with us, it was frequently unpleasant. In that way, I'm really glad she has moved out because our relationship is nearly 100% pleasant.

I remember when Rachael was nine or ten my sister was asking about the girls likes, dislikes, passions, etc. When I got to Rachael, I paused because her likes, dislikes and passions didn't stand out to me. I replied, "You know, Rachael just does life well." It was profound. I had never articulated it like that but it is true, very true: Rachael does life well. She's responsible, respectful, a great conversationalist, a good worker, resourceful. She's in a phase of teenage-induced stupid choices, but my heart is fairly light regarding her. Generally speaking, I don't lay awake at night praying for her. I pray for her but it's not driven by heaviness of heart.

My greatest concern for her (I believe she'll turn back to God so that's not paramount in my mind) is that she is going to get a broken heart. For Rachael, I think living together is mock homemaking. She's serious about it. Although I don't think she wants to get married, she views the arrangement seriously. She's tired of the party scene, the pot, the drunks, the late nights. She wants to be like a young responsible married couple. I don't think Nick is ready to leave all those things behind. This dynamic is hard to watch as I see a vulnerable little girl who is likely going to experience a heartbreak. That hurts this mama's heart.

God, thank you for Rachael and for the joy she brings us. Please draw her to You. Fill her heart with wonder and awe of You. Soften her heart to see her need for You. Please protect her and continue maturing her and helping her grow into the young lady You want her to be. Be glorified in her life. Please give me wisdom and grace to be a good mom to her. May she always be able to see Your open arms that she can run to and fall into.

court-ordered intervention

Hannah on the beach

2004, Hannah's first experience with the ocean, Florida

Monday I went to court to get Hannah's PChAD (Protection of Children Abusing Drugs) order. I had to prove why I thought Hannah needed the protection of a court-ordered detox program. It was hard revealing these gross things to strangers who didn't know Hannah prior to drug use tainting her. 

The reasons I gave for the application:

  • She was caught using pot at school.
  • Her diary indicates frequent pot use, MDMA and cocaine use on occasion.
  • RCMP confiscated paraphernalia once.
  • She attended 4/20 at the Alberta Legislature and took her 12-year-old sister with her.
  • She frequently smells like pot.
  • She’s had violent outbursts where she has destroyed property.
  • She got in a truck with two strange men for free smokes. (This was the scariest one, the one which convinced me to pursue PChAD.)
  • She drinks alcohol as often as she can get it; has been drunk on a number of occasions.
  • She exposed herself to others while high. As a passenger on the Anthony Henday, she showed her breasts as they passed cars. (According to diary and confirmed by Rachael)
  • According to her diary, she had multiple "playing around" partners once when high at a party.
  • She “lives from one high to the next,” according to her 17-year-old sister.
  • She gives pot to her 12-year-old sister.

It was humiliating divulging these things about Hannah. Making these things public is equivalent to saying, "I've been a neglectful, bad parent," or at least it seems so. Others don't know my heartbreak and how I wonder and ask myself all the time, "God, what went wrong? I certainly thought I was being a good mom."

Hannah and casanova
Hannah and Casanova, a few days before going to PChAD

Once the judge gave me the court order I had to wait at the court house for the clerk to get the paperwork in order. While there I texted Hannah to tell her it had been granted and tell her I loved her. I'm thankful I had that opportunity to touch base with her about it because the next phase of the process totally caught me (and Hannah) off guard.

Once I had the court-ordered apprehension notice, I was told to take it to the RCMP for enforcement. I knew this was coming, but I had been told that it would take a few days as someone would have to be discharged from the "safe house" before they could admit Hannah. As it turned out, a constable read the court order then said, "I'll follow you to your house to get her." I was nearly speechless with shock. I hadn't prepared her, wasn't certain she was home, etc. It felt too quick and so wrong.

Thankfully, the officer was kind and personable. She spoke respectfully to Hannah and Hannah went willingly. I hugged Hannah, told her I loved her and watched her get into the backseat of the car. Then I sat down and cried. But, I was convinced the PChAD was the right thing to do.

Several months ago we had a huge episode in our house and I told the girls that it looked like I was losing all of them. "If I'm losing you, I'm not losing you without a fight," I told them. I hope they remember that and view these crazy things I'm always doing as me fighting FOR them.

God, please soften Hannah's heart. She so hard, uncaring, worldly, angry and filled with bitterness. Please use this experience in detox to soften her. Please give her clarity and direction this week. Teach her some things that will make her want to live differently. God, please work in Hannah's heart this week. Help her know how much I love her. Sometimes I don't think she knows. Show me how to show love to Hannah in a way that truly speaks love to her. Please be glorified in Hannah's life and help her turn to You. Please change her this week.


god, why?

Hanah and frodo in her room
Hannah (9 years old) and Frodo 2005

Hannah came home today. Since we’ve not known where she has been for a week, this is wonderful news.

Eight days ago, Hannah left the house around 2 a.m. Things similar in nature have happened before, enough so that they don’t terrify us like they use to. But they exasperate, exhaust, and burden us. Gordon and I sat in our old Adirondack chairs sipping our tea in silence as the morning sun warmed our faces. I know Gordon was thinking the same thing as me:  God, why?

Hannah grade 6
Hannah, grade 6

Hannah is into drugs (mostly marijuana) and alcohol. We anguish over the lessons she’ll learn on this path. I’ve begun the process of getting a court-ordered intervention called PChAD, (Protection of Children Abusing Drugs). Once a judge orders a PChAD, Hannah will be subjected to 10-days of assessment, education, counseling, and detox. It’s only 10 days, but hopefully something in those few days will strike a chord with Hannah and make her want to alter her course.

All her life she’s been strong, comfortable walking her own path. I remember my pride when her grade 1 teacher told me of Hannah’s strength to stand for what she believed. That strongwill was usually directed toward something I could affirm so I loved it. Now that strength is channeled in a direction that’s harmful at the very least.

We have prayed for Hannah her entire life. We trained her in Scriptures; she was loved, nurtured, adored, disciplined; her parents loved each other and were committed to family. I was a stay-at-home mom. Surely the good in Hannah's life outweighed the bad. Repeatedly I think about these things and always come back to, "God, why?"

My prayers have changed over time. I’m wearing down and not praying lengthy prayers anymore. It seems my words are used up. But “terror prayers” go up often. Terror prayers are what I call prayers that follow a terrible thought or new knowledge.

H smiling
Hannah, Summer 2012

A few days ago I saw a young girl about Hannah’s age stumbling. As I saw it happen, a horrible thought of Hannah stumbling, drunk or high, into traffic entered my mind. The terror prayer began, “Oh God, please protect my baby girl. Show her her need for you. Show her the futility of this life. Please draw her to you. Show her yourself in a personal powerful way. Please God, save her."

When Hannah was 8 or 9 I gave her a little pink devotional and she did regular devotions. Nearly every night when she and I prayed, she would say, “But Mama, I don’t feel anything. How come I  don’t feel God’s presence?” She longed to “feel” something. She never did.

Several weeks ago when her erratic behavior was escalating, I read her diary. I was so saddened to read that she still hangs on to that period of life. She told about her and me praying regularly that she would know God’s presence in her life. She told about that little devotional book and how she sought God almost daily. Her conclusion: either God doesn’t exist or he doesn’t care for her.

I cried out to God, “God, why didn’t you answer the prayers of my innocent daughter? She sincerely wanted to know you. Why, why, why?”

I am not angry with God. I’ve been through enough in my life to know there is a bigger picture that I’m not privy to. However, I have a constant refrain in my heart: God, why? I know, there is a reason we are on this journey; I know He’s fulfilling a bigger purpose. I believe Romans 8:28 with all my heart; He is working everything for my good. Without that belief I don’t think I could bear the pain of Hannah’s present path.

Yet still, even with that strong conviction, I wonder “God, why?”

letting go

I love this girl so much. Rachael
Rachael, 2010, 10 years old

Today is Rachael's first training shift at Superstore. I'm so proud of her for getting this job. Last week she had a day of orientation and was so cute as she relayed some of the things she learned. The owner/boss told stories and anecdotes that interested Rachael and she took notes - the only new hire doing so. That's her mom and dad coming out in her.

The following day she excitedly told us of Nick and her plans regarding finances and living together. They've got it all worked out, at least in their minds. It was mildly heartbreaking to hear her innocence; they're going to save money all summer, get an apartment for $865 a month, split groceries and she'll contribute gas money. It made my heart hurt. So young and still fairly un-jaded, yet so experienced for only (almost) 17.

She moved out of the house on April 20, nearly three months ago. There had been several nights when she didn't come home and I told her there would be no more chances. "Honey, if you don't come home again, you are choosing to live elsewhere." She understood. We talked at length about it.

Rachael at the beach 3
                       Rachael, Vancouver, 2006, grade 6

She, Hannah and Deborah skipped school and went to "4-20" at the Alberta Legislature. "4-20" (April 20th) is "National Smoke Pot Day" and they joined the pot-smoking masses for the celebration. I was upset, mostly because she took her 12-year-old sister. (I spent a good amount of the day scared out of my mind trying to find Deborah, even involving the RCMP). When they came home I asked her what she was thinking taking Deborah with her. I reminded her of our discussions about house rules and told her she had to leave. She was ready. She phoned her boyfriend Nick and he asked before she said anything if she was kicked out. (That phrase, "kicked out", grates on my nerves. She was not kicked out, she chose to live elsewhere when she blatantly made the choice to disobey house rules. That is how I translate the conflict and how I believe Rachael understood the consequences.) He came and got her and they've been living together since. (They were intimate long before then.) First they lived in a house Nick was helping renovate. The understanding was they'd help renovate it then they'd get to rent the downstairs when it was done. They worked hard, especially Nick. (I love his work ethic.)

That arrangement didn't work out because the owners changed their minds about the reno plans. Rachael and Nick went to his mom's house and stayed for a while. His mom told them it wasn't a permanent arrangement and they'd have to leave in a couple weeks. Once they left there, we didn't know where they were for a few days. Then I discovered they were living in our garden shed. After Gordon and I went to work, they'd shower, eat, etc. Once I discovered them and it was no longer a secret, the shed became a teenager hangout as kids were always there, frequently smoking dope. Gordon gave them a deadline for when they'd have to leave and they left that day. (It was again heartbreaking as they offered to "pay rent" for the shed.) Several times Gordon reminded Rachael that she could always come home but she'd have to obey house rules and house rules didn't include her boyfriend living here.

2010 rachael beauty
2010, 15 years old

Since leaving the shed, they've been living with Nick's father. When Nick comes into town for work, he drops Rachael off at our house, therefore we see a lot of her. It's great to see her; she's extraordinarily pleasant to be around - truly a pleasure. But with Deborah as vulnerable and easily influenced as she is, we can't have a legal adult daughter living with us who is setting a bad example.

In Alberta, one is a legal adult at 16. As an adult, she can do what she wants. The only control we still have is having some "not in my house" rules. Rachael has never been unwelcomed here but she understands she has to abide by our rules or live elsewhere. She's chosen to live elsewhere.

Strangely, I've adapted pretty well. We get along well. While she lived here, there was ongoing conflict; curfew, marijuana, how she spoke disrespectfully and disregarded boundaries, not coming home, etc. Now we communicate pleasantly, affectionately, respectfully and with obvious appreciation for each other. I thoroughly enjoy having her around. I see good qualities that I got blind to while she was living here. I see her strengths and inner beauty. It's not been easy, but I'm starting to understand this process of "letting go" a little better.